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Thread: Forum Suggestion

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Forum Suggestion

    I would love a forum/sticky, etc. where we could post concept plans and receive ideas, suggestions, feeback, or constructive comments from our fellow professionals.

    For example, I have a particular rezoning application that I think has a pretty good layout (given the alternatives), but I would love for someone to critque and comment on it.

    Ideally we would get not just: "Oh that sucks." But rather: "Have you looked at moving the building this way or that way?" or "Could office work on tract 3, where they currently show "X, Y or Z".

    What I like about a forum dedicated to it, is that we would get a database over time that could help people out without having to post.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    I think that's a fine idea--assuming the folks in the forum have any expertise in reviewing concept plans/site plans etc...

    Also, I assume you plan on telling the applicant that you plan on doing this?

  3. #3
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u View post
    Also, I assume you plan on telling the applicant that you plan on doing this?
    Yeah...good point. This forum may not be feasible due to possible copyright infringement related to making copyrighted plans publicly available without consent from the plan preparer/copyright holder.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  4. #4
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    That idea or something very similar to it has been suggested before, but I don't remember why it was never implemented. gk and mendleman brought up some good points. Once it's posted to the net, it's anyone's game, copyright or not. I would also be hesitant about posting a site plan for review on such a forum before it's been officially presented to the public. If a net-savvy citizen came across the plan online along with a request for comment that was not specifically directed to that citizen and/or neighborhood, it could wreck havoc by the time the public hearing comes around.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    All that's true.

    My point was more basic---ethically I think you need to ask permission of the Applicant. What we do day in a day out is so dependent upon a fair process. This doesn't seem fair to me. The Applicant's job is to meet all regulations and conform to any policy guidence.

    I suggest that Mallen take this approach internally--let your peers take a look and provide feedback.

    It is inappropriate in my opinion to air a plan on any forum.

    I can see it happening:

    planner--I'd like you to consider moving your building closer to the street and putting the parking behind.

    applicant--why? I am meeting all zoning regulations and the town has no policy that recommends this design

    planner--well this guy in this forum says you should.

    Not good, not appropriate. Pretty sure the boss, any boss, would not approve either.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    This was tossed around before, I think we scrapped the ideas based on the repercussions that would result when Applicant X saw his proposal for Development Y on the internet being critiqued.

    Dont quote me on that, but I think it is pretty accurate summation.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Beyond posting in a public forum, I would see a big problem with none of us knowing the local zoning code/comp plan. Critiques aren't constructive unless they work within the framework the locality permits.

  8. #8
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    This was tossed around before, I think we scrapped the ideas based on the repercussions that would result when Applicant X saw his proposal for Development Y on the internet being critiqued.
    In your case, when you're the applicant, I don't think you would want people mucking about your site plan in a public forum. Granted, it's public information, but still, you would expect that it would be reviewed by the planning agency it was submitted to, not some anonymous folks on a forum.

    That doesn't mean someone can't ask for advice about reviewing a submittal, or ask for a crit for their own projects.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Once a site plan/plan application is filed and listed on the agenda for review it is not public at that point ?

    ZG has a great point - would have to know the standards by which to judge it by.
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    First off, I'm not married to the idea. I just thought it would be a useful service. I have opinions and I'm not afraid to share them. Having said that, I agree somewhat with some of the practical problems.

    For one, I concur completely that local context makes this type of "out of town" critique difficult. In addition to policies, not knowing whether a waterline, easement, powerline, etc. exists in the vicinity that would alter things, makes it even more difficult. But what would be helpful, would be a fresh perspective. I have my opinions on site plans. I'd be happy to share them and let people take it or leave it.

    I would also be a little concerned about "stupid" recommendations. What would happen if I submitted a plan and MemberX said: "I wouldn't approve of that piece of crap under any circumstance" and that made its way into the public record somehow? Problems. But, I guess that is my risk to take.

    But, I don't really agree with the assertion that an applicant is due some deference and projects shouldn't meet daylight. I couldn't care less if an applicant gets upset if I seek outside opinions on a topic/project (hell, I hope my doctor calls in experts when I'm in the office). I'm going to use any available tool to make the best decision possible.

    I would never prevent someone from doing something that is legally permissable. But I often have discretionary input that can improve a project with thoughful input (especially through rezonings, PUD approvals or others). Nearly EVERY day, I'm asked for my input and opinon on proposed projects.

    To the point that "Pretty sure the boss, any boss, would not approve either." Well, I'm the boss. So there.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    But, I don't really agree with the assertion that an applicant is due some deference and projects shouldn't meet daylight. I couldn't care less if an applicant gets upset if I seek outside opinions on a topic/project (hell, I hope my doctor calls in experts when I'm in the office). I'm going to use any available tool to make the best decision possible.
    I see your antagonism for the applicant. That's too bad, but typical of public sector planners. My point was simply this--In the event you choose do to this I think ethically you should tell the applicant that you are posting his project on a planner forum and will be asking for advice, improvements etc...

    Sorry but this is an anonymous forum. As such there is no eveidence that there is any expertise among posters.

    If you want postive advice...You are better off gathering a group of local experts, known and identified, in some sort of "design cabinet" if you will.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    IANAP (I am not a planner but IMO)

    SLip in a one page legal agreement that allows your agency to publicly display and actively seek written comment regarding applicant projects. Some projects will never see the light of public display and the signe d form goes in the circular file (recycle). Other complex type of projects can get a wider degree of public exposure ( in these early stages when all is still under wraps so to speak).YOur looking for independent objective opinions from a cadre of cohorts, your applicant will think he is getting free counsel, his to reject ro consider.

    TO add: for a forum to display actual projects with no censor of names or other particulars would have to be closely monitored to keep on topic and at a "cabinet level" decorum. It could be interesting!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    While an application is available for public comment, is some one across the country really the inteded "public?"

    I wouldnt be opposed to some typ of design critique, but as far as ordinance-related comments I doubt you'd ever be able to get a decent review.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian mallen's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u View post
    I see your antagonism for the applicant. That's too bad, but typical of public sector planners.
    I have no antagonism for the applicant. In fact, for the potential project that I had in mind that brought this up, I fully support.

    FWIW, I'm not anti-development/anti-developer in the least. But, I am tough. And I'm not too concerned about the feelings of an applicant and how they might take it.

    I take a pass on the "public sector planners" comment out of respect for the forum.

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